Hey it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and life you love, and this is Q&A Tuesday. Now, today’s question comes from Nina and she writes, “Hi Marie, I’m an Art Studies graduate from Germany and I recently stumbled over your videos and I love them. You helped me find the motivation to finish my bachelor thesis and get excited about the start of a new phase in my life. Now, I have a question. I actually had to repeat writing the thesis since I failed in the first attempt. That was one of the worst failures in my life so far, but I managed to get through it and write a new one within 2 months. I recently handed it in, but I’m left with a lot of insecurity about my abilities and my knowledge. How can I overcome such a devastating failure like that and regain my confidence? Thank you so much, love Nina.” Now, Nina, that this is an incredible question and to answer it today I’m having back one of our favorite guests of all time, Doctor Cathy Collautt. Cathy, thank you so much for coming back to MarieTV.
So happy to be here.
Ok, so I’m excited to dig into this with you, but before we do just for everybody out there, I know failure is one of those words, right? People can take a lot of issue with it and debate about it. There’s no such thing as failure, there’s only experiences or results. We’re not going to get into the debate about that, we just wanna help people when you feel like something really bad has happened and you really don’t have any confidence and you wanna get back out there in the game. And then the second thing we wanna say is nothing we’re gonna share today is about not giving yourself time to lick your wound, you know, when you have a failure, yeah, and you need some time to grieve. So all of this is when you’re ready to get back in the game, how to do it in a really healthy way.
So you have 4 steps that we can help ourselves with. What’s step number one?
So step number one is to realize that Nina’s is a very important question because the truth is you must. You must learn to deal with setbacks, failures, and devastating failure, you must learn to deal with blows to your confidence, you must learn to overcome because they are going to happen. The chance of you making it through life without setbacks and failures is, what? Nil? Especially if you’re gonna try new things and to be new things and especially if you’re gonna live a life worth living. So step number one is to recognize that the question how can I overcome failure and regain confidence is not about possibility as in how is it possible for me to, but about necessity. I have to find a way to deal with setbacks and failures even, and perhaps especially, devastating failure and to regain confidence when I lose it. I have to find a way to overcome. It must be possible, because they are going to happen. As you always say, Marie, it’s a non negotiable.
Yes, it really is a non negotiable and I love this idea of you have to make it a must. That’s it.
There’s no other possibility.
That’s step number one, make it a must. If you’re gonna live a life worth living you will see setbacks, so make it a must to learn to deal with them.
On to step two. You will see setbacks and failures because success and failure are not two separate roads like you would meet at a crossroads, for example. Success and failure are on the same road. Just picture success as farther down that road. So step two is recognizing that success and failure are on the same path. Think about it. Always before you can do something there’s a period of time in which you cannot or have not yet proven that you can do this thing.
Always you can’t do it first. In fact, up until that third or 30th or 300th time when you succeed, every prior attempt is to some extent a setback or a failure. This means that successful people actually fail just as often, if not more than their unsuccessful counterparts. You’ve probably heard some version of the saying that the most important difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful ones never interpret failure as the last word on the subject. That is worth repeating. The most important difference between successful and unsuccessful people is the way they respond to failure and to losing. So your action step here is to relax about it. Leave off drawing conclusions about your character, your worth, and/or your entire existence because you’ve seen failures. You will see failures. You’re supposed to see failures, otherwise you’re probably not, as in pretty definitely not, giving… really trying. And by that I mean giving enough of yourself to your life.
Right. You’re probably playing it safe.
You’re not taking any kind of risks whatsoever.
You’ve probably been sitting on the couch.
Right. Doing the same thing over and over.
Next, step 3. Celebrate the effort, not the result. To begin to regain confidence, you want to applaud yourself for trying. Remember you had two options: try or not try. Genuinely applaud yourself for putting yourself out there and for trying. Your applause should be equal to your earnestness, how much of yourself you really gave, and the raw effort you made, and not in proportion to your perceived success or lack thereof. So your action step here is to applaud yourself to the extent that you got in the ring instead of sitting on the sideline.
That’s important. I mean, for so many people, especially I think in our world, you know, the online world for me at least. I see so many, like, armchair quarterbacks and people that are, oh you should do this, you should do that. And I’m like are you really in there getting anything done? Where I love this idea of celebrating ourselves really for making the effort and I love that distinction to the degree that we actually made the effort. So if you’re, like, half assing it…
The applause is less.
…you’re gonna do a golf clap.
Right. And like I say, you wanna genuinely applaud yourself. It’s not like it’s some consolation prize because it isn’t. You wanna be giving yourself props for doing the most important thing and the thing over which you actually have control, which is putting yourself out there and really trying.
I think that’s another important distinction, you know, because in so many areas of our lives we can’t control the outcome, you know, whether it’s a business negotiation or you’re pitching something. You really can’t manipulate, nor would we necessarily want to. But you’re right, the only thing that we can have any sort of control over is how we show up and to the effort that we do.
Which is why I would say even when you win, you wanna celebrate the effort and enjoy the result.
Yes. So step number 4 is actually one of my favorites, all about confining our conclusions. What does that mean?
You don’t wanna let this specific failure become global about you, your life, your abilities. You wanna confine your conclusions and your shame to this iteration, to this try, to this specific experiment, to this particular manifestation of your effort, to this try or, as I call it, the iteration. I can relate to Nina failing her first thesis attempt because so did I. I failed my PhD the first time and I know exactly why I did and it had nothing to do with my knowledge or my abilities, evidently as I also rewrote it in a matter of a month or two and passed. But even if I did fail a second time, would that mean I was incapable? Whether I am or not is still undetermined at the end of a failure because success, if it does exist, exists farther down that same road. But fine. Say I wasn’t capable. The question is, incapable of or inept at what exactly? Watch the tendency to draw increasingly global conclusions as the result of a specific failure. So do I question my ability to write a passable thesis on this particular topic or in this particular field or in academia in general? Do I go on to question my ability to read or write or think at all? What about my ability to make good decisions and to follow through and handle my life in general? Are all these things being brought into question?
Usually I think. Right?
Right? And the more you generalize and abstract your conclusion from this specific iteration or expression of your effort, the more you inflate its failure to cover ever increasing aspects of yourself and your life and the harder it will be for you to do two things: learn from it and try again. So your action step here is to confine your conclusions and, as I say, your shame to the iteration. Don’t by rote spin off into an abyss of lifelong character judgments, nor even necessarily what a lost cause you are at this. Relegating your conclusions to the effort rather than to your essential nature is definitely a healthier if not more correct way to engage with the game of life.
I love it. I mean, I think it’s so easy for any of us when we experience the tiniest failure, again, it just balloons up and it does become global so fast and I think that this last piece is where people get really, really tripped up because they start assigning it and looking through that lens on every level. And of course you can feel crippled at that point.
Of course it would be hard. So I love that. It’s a very conscious way to go… bring it down.
And it’s much harder to change your behavior if it’s attributed to your essential nature as opposed to the one effort. I can do something different next time as opposed to of course I can’t do anything different, I’m just incapable of or I’m inept or, you know, I’m really bad at.
Cathy, this was awesome. So let’s review.
So life, as they say, is the successive unfolding of success from failure inasmuch as every attempt proceeding success will invariably be to some extent a failure or a setback. Life really lived is comprised of these iterations. Just redress your understanding, your definition of a failure. A failure is a try that didn’t work. These are your options: regret trying or applaud yourself for trying. Let this failure give you reason enough to sit down and step out of the ring indefinitely or learn from it in order to improve the next try, the next iteration. Don’t pretend that sitting on the sidelines is the responsible and rational and objective thing to do. Try instead in the name of logic and reason to contain the result to the effort. Just because you didn’t yet does not mean you can’t. It may mean you won’t, but that is still entirely unknown and totally up to you.
Beautiful. Cathy, thank you so much for being here today.
My absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me back.
Now Cathy and I would love to hear from you. Have you ever overcome a devastating failure or maybe you know someone else who has? What were the steps that helped you? We would love to hear about it in the comments below. Now, as always, the best discussions happen after the episode over at MarieForleo.com, so go there and leave a comment now. Did you like this video? If so, subscribe and share it with your friends. And if you want even more great resources to create a business and life that you love plus some personal insights from me that I only talk about in email, get yourself over to MarieForleo.com and sign up for email updates. Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world needs that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll catch you next time on MarieTV.